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Protecting vineyards against hail – ask Decanter

How do winemakers protect vineyards against hail...?

Protecting vineyards against hail – ask Decanter

Thomas Boorman, Brussels, asks: There’s been more bad news this year about severe hail damage in French vineyards. Is it feasible for producers to erect physical barriers against it? If so, what would be the cost implications?

Christophe Coupez, manager at Oenocentre Pauillac for Chambre d’Agriculture de la Gironde, replies for Decanter:

Indeed, statistics show that weather damage is becoming more frequent, and the consequences worse.

Yes, physical barriers such as nets have proved their efficiency against hail, and yet until very recently it was not permitted to use nets to protect a vineyard producing AP wines.

See also: How can winemakers prevent frost? Ask Decanter – Decanter

However, a surprise INAO announcement in mid-July means that, following three years of experimentation in Burgundy, hail nets can now be used – although there are still some who object.

Depending on the density of planting, the cost may vary between €10,000 and €20,000 per hectare.

It might add about 15 cents to the cost of producing a bottle, so perhaps an additional 30p-50p on the retail price in the UK, depending on the distributor.

This question first appeared in the October 2018 issue of Decanter magazine.

See more wine questions answered here.

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